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Economic downturn hits charity workforce

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Tue, 27/09/2011

Employment in the voluntary sector has fallen by 5% over the past 12 months according to the latest Labour Force Survey. The figures for the second quarter of 2011 show that the voluntary sector employs 768,000 people, a fall of around 38,000 employees since the second quarter of 2010. These latest findings signify that the voluntary sector workforce has now experienced two consecutive quarters of decline in addition to the ‘flatline’ witnessed towards the end of 2010.

Early indications also suggest a change in working patterns and pay within the sector. The number of part-time employees in the voluntary sector has increased over the past three months, with an additional 13,000 people working part-time. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings in the voluntary sector have fallen over the previous quarter to £10.14 per hour.

The findings were produced by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with Skills -Third Sector, the registered charity working to make it easier for people who work and volunteer in charities and social enterprises to have the right skills to make a difference to people and their communities. The findings come as part of an ongoing study being conducted by these three bodies into overall voluntary sector workforce trends.

Keith Mogford, interim chief executive of Skills - Third Sector says:
“Although it might be unrealistic to expect the voluntary sector to be immune from the wider economic pressures in the UK, these findings illustrate the scale of the challenges facing the sector at a time when expectations are clearly rising. If the sector is to deliver vital support for vulnerable communities it needs enough skilled people to carry out the work in hand.”


A National Skills Strategy represents the foresight needed to bring
about the kind of workforce for a professional and thriving voluntary sector. Skills – Third Sector’s public consultation with the sector to develop this skills strategy involves nine regional roundtables and an
online consultation.